Sundowners: Falling Apart in New Hollywood

At the close of the 1960s, American society was entering a dark new chapter. The free love and flower power of the previous years had crested and the revolution never came. While the New Left could claim some small social gains, a political backlash was mounting. Richard Nixon was elected president, several rising political figures had been assassinated, and the counterculture continued to fragment and retreat from the looming crises of the 1970s. Concurrent with this cultural shift was the rise of New Hollywood. Young filmmakers working outside of the studio system, inspired by emerging radical movements in global cinema, were eager to capture the changing mood of the nation and cast a jaded eye on their own West Coast milieu. Perhaps the most famous example of this moment in American auteurism is Dennis Hopper’s road movie Easy Rider, with its final scene foreshadowing the bumpy road ahead for the Baby Boom generation. Hollywood’s filmic self-reckoning in the 1970s is at once refreshing if not entirely sincere. The rich and famous bleed like the rest of us, even if they are more insulated from everyday American concerns. This series highlights the dark side of L.A.’s glamour and decadence as captured by the New Hollywood generation.  

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